Update on Seattle Public Schools Funding

Dear Seattle Public School families,

As we prepare for the 2018-19 school year, our district has spent time this summer looking ahead at our overall finances.

Our schools are funded through state and federal dollars, grants and local voter-approved levy dollars. Seattle Public Schools lost funding and flexibility in the state Legislature’s attempt to fix school funding after the McCleary lawsuit.

In the past, the district was able to spend an additional $4,000 per student every year through our local education levy funding. These funds support educator salaries and programs students need and parents expect. Now the state is limiting the district’s ability to collect, reducing collection to $2,500 per student every year via the voter-approved operations levy.

To fill the gap for this coming school year, SPS will rely on a one-time $45.5 million surplus, which the district set aside to help cover educator and staff salary increases during a three-year period. However, after this year, there will be a growing funding gap.

More than 70 percent of our funding goes directly to salaries that support classrooms and schools. To make up the budget shortfall each year, the district will likely have to reduce staffing and look at making cuts to programs.

Despite our projected funding gap starting in the 2019-20 school year, Seattle Public Schools is committed to ensuring our students have the access and opportunities they need to succeed. This includes balancing paying our amazing educators a fair and competitive wage with providing the programming our students and families need and expect.

Our pledge to you:

  • We will continue to advocate for our students, educators, staff and families.
  • We will continue to work with lawmakers to allow us to collect the local levy dollars we need to operate.
  • We will continue with prudent and responsible financial planning to prepare for the upcoming shortfall.
  • We will continue to ask our community to consider replacement operations levies when they expire.
  • We have been planning for this funding challenge and will continue to ensure that our students have the educators, instructional materials, technology and opportunities they need to be successful in school and beyond. We will provide updates about bridging the future funding gap at is a chart summarizing our overall finances.

If you have any questions about our budget, funding, or would like a budget presentation for your school community please contact

Public Affairs
Seattle Public Schools

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